The Wholesome Show

A podcast

A Brief History Of Anti-Vaccination!

Domesticating the Fox!

How did wolves turn into dogs?

Dmitri Belyaev wanted to find out, so he launched a secret experiment in the middle of Stalinist Soviet Union to domesticate the fox!

The Wholesome Show is Rod Lamberts and Will Grant, joined today by Hannah Carle!

Normally brought to you by The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, today we're also brought to you by the Research School of Biology at ANU as the final Director's Seminar for 2019!

Stats Porn!

PornHub is one of the biggest porn sites on the planet - and every year they release a data dump of what the world watches!

Rod tells Will all about it!

The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt!

At the beginning of the 20th Century the French colonisers in Hanoi had a problem with rats. Sure, rats had always been out there in the streets and the Vietnamese neighbourhoods... But something new was happening...

The rats were poking their furry noses up in the toilets of the rich and powerful. Ugh!

Will explores how they tried to solve the problem!

The Resurrectionists!

In the early 19th Century medical schools in England and Scotland were in a bit of a pickle. They needed a regular supply of bodies to demonstrate anatomy lessons on, but there just weren't enough being produced via 'offical' means... So they turned to some 'grey area' associates to help them out.

Will tells Rod their story!


The Diary of a Resurrectionist 1811-1812

Smithsonian Magazine: In need of cadavers, 19th century medical students raided Baltimore’s graves

The Death Penalty in Japan, with Mai Sato!

Iwao Hakamada was sentenced to death on September 11, 1968, for a 1966 quadruple murder.

On March 10, 2011, Guinness World Records certified Hakamada as the world's longest-held death row inmate.

Cool record huh! (Very very not cool).

Today we explore his story with Mai Sato!


Mai Sato & Paul Bacon (2015) “The Public Opinion Myth: Why Japan retains the death penalty.” The Death Penalty Project. 

The Irish Times: Death Row Miscarriage Case Puts Spotlight on Japanese Justice

The Guardian: Japanese Man Freed After 45 Years on Death Row Could Go Back To Jail 

The Guardian: Prisoners driven insane on Japan's death row, says Amnesty

The Conversation: Why Japan is reluctant to retry the world’s longest-serving death row inmate      

Japan Times: Story of Iwao Hakamada, boxer who spent 48 years on death row, to become manga series

Isaac Newton, Coin Detective!

Isaac Newton had an amazing career as a scientist. But did you know he also had a secret follow up career as an undercover detective chasing bad guys around London?

Rod tells Will the story!

Further reading:

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist” by Thomas Levenson. See here.

Executed today: William Chaloner

Headstuff: William Chaloner, master counterfeiter

Physics History


The Fake Fake Prison Experiment!

For nearly 50 years the Stanford Prison Experiment has been held up as the most famous experiment in psychology. Ethically flawed, sure, but at least it told us a whole lot about how bad situations make bad people...

But it was bullshit.

Will tells Rod why!

Further reading

This episode draws on Thibault Le Texier’s Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment, originally published in French as Histoire d’un mensonge: enquête sur l’expérience de Stanford.

Is Reality An Illusion?

Edgar Allan Poe once declared that 'all we see or seem is but a dream within a dream'. Poetic thoughts, sure.

But what if they're true? What if we're actually living in a simulation? I hate to break it to you, but some people think it's more likely than not - and they're trying to break out!

Rod tells Will all about it!

Further reading

NY Times: Are we living in a computer simulation? Let’s not find out

The Outline: I became a randonaut to try to glitch the simulation and all I got was a bottle of pee

Medium: We need to find out if we are living in a simulation

Reddit: Randonauts

Medium: Hacking reality expect the unexpected 

Randonauts: Guide 

John Paul Stapp And The Rocket Sled!

A drag racer can accelerate from a dead stop to 160 km/h in 0.86 seconds. That's a horizontal acceleration of 5.3 g.

For most of us that would mush our brains to the backs of our skulls and leave us in a state of piddling confusion.

But to John Paul Stapp that's baby steps.

Rod tells Will about John Paul Stapp's mission to see just how fast the human body can start and stop!

Further reading:

John Paul Stapp, 89, Is Dead; 'The Fastest Man on Earth'     

46.2 Gs!!! The Story of John Paul Stapp, ‘The Fastest Man on Earth’

The Fastest Man on Earth (Part 2 of 4): Why Everything You Know About Murphy’s Law is Wrong     

Murphy’s Law is totally misunderstood and is in fact a call to excellence

Northrop “Gee-Whizz” Decelerator Sled

The Highest Fecal Time Bomb In The World!

I hate to break it to you, but the highest mountain in the world is no longer a wilderness. Far from the distant unclimbable of Mallory and Hillary, Mt Everest is now a heaving festival of the best and worst of humanity, and an oversize garbage dump with its own nightclub.

Rod tells Will all about it!

Further reading

Five myths about Mount Everest

Mount Everest’s Strangest Artifacts and Objects

The tragic tale of Mt Everest’s Most Famous Dead Body 

Green Boots

'Every minute counts': Another climber dies on Everest as world's tallest peak overcrowds

Decades of human waste have made Mount Everest a ‘fecal time bomb’

4 Strange Mount Everest Stories

David Sharp (mountaineer)

Human Zoos!

Between the 1870s and the 1930s hundreds of zoos in Europe and America included people - yes human people - as part of their display collections. Will tells Rod all about it!

The Vague Silver Lining of Tobacco

I don't want to - ahem - blow smoke up your arse, but tobacco is not 100% satanically evil.

Wait wait, before you shoot us, yes - tobacco is 99.9999% satanically evil, and has caused untold cancers and deaths and other bad things. But... there might be a tiny sliver of a silver lining? We explore!

Peaceful Nuclear Explosions!

In the 1960s and 70s the United States and the Soviet Union had a shitload of nuclear weapons... and when all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail. So they started using their nuclear hammers to solve other... civilian problems!

Poll Failures - With Kevin Bonham

Political polls... aren't having a good run. After spectacular failures of polling in the UK in the Brexit vote and the US in the 2016 election, the malaise has come to Australia - the recent election was specatularly poorly called.

We sit down with poll analyst Dr Kevin Bonham to explore why!

Explore Kevin’s blog at

Injected With Plutonium

On May 14, 1945, Albert Stevens was injected with 131 kBq (3.55 µCi) of plutonium - the highest known radiation dose in any human - without his knowledge or informed consent.

This is his story.

A Brief History Counting People!

Statistics, you might be surprised to learn, is the science of the state. At heart the whole discipline was born from an effort to count how many people your country had, so you could know how many taxes you could collect / armies you could raise / pyramids you could build.

But the business of counting people has never been... straight forward. Sam Vilkins tells Rod and Will all about it!

Further reading:

Empire of the Census by Ed Burmila

Malthus’ Essay on Population and the American Debate over Slavery, by Dennis Hodgson

 In Donald Trump’s Census, Who Counts? by Emily Bazelon

Trump Can’t Win the War on Demography by William H. Frey

Neil Gorsuch thinks there is nothing unusual about a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Here’s why he’s wrong. By Philip Rocco

What You Need To Know About The 2020 Census by Hansi Lo Wang

See 200 Years of Twists And Turns Of Census Citizenship Questions by Hansi Lo Wang and Renee Klahr

Unexplained Aerial Phenomena! (It's The New Name For UFOs!)

In our galaxy there are billions of stars like our Sun, many of them probably billions of years older. In all likelihood, many of these stars will have Earth-like planets, and if the Earth is typical, at last some may have developed intelligent life - perhaps even billions of years more advanced than us.

It's just simple probability! But... why is the galaxy so... quiet?

Today, we explore the world of people looking for answers...